The UAE Space Agency announced the details of the new UAE Space Law issued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The announcement was made on 24 February 2020 during an introductory workshop for the UAE Space Law, organised by the UAE Space Agency and held in Abu Dhabi. Previously, the law was passed by the UAE Cabinet, headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in late 2019.
During the workshop, the Agency revealed the details of the first law of its kind in the Arab and Islamic world, which aims to create a legislative and regulatory environment for the national space sector in line with the other laws and regulations in the UAE.
The UAE Space Law consists of nine chapters and 54 articles that regulate space activities across the country and governs the Agency’s role in this regard.
It clarifies the mechanism for issuing space activity permits; registering space objects and vehicles; responsibility and insurance regulations for space activities; space accidents and risks regulations; the transitional period for current operators regulations; the provisions for regulating the construction of facilities on other planets, as well as the utilisation of space resources and developing space debris mitigation measures.
The new law aims to adhere to international treaties, and be clear, transparent, and flexible. It also aims to protect the UAE’s interests through establishing a balance between economic and commercial requirements, encourage innovation, adhere to the requirements of security, safety, and protect the environment, as well as drive investment and promote the participation of the private sector in the space industry.
The law is being implemented during a transformational time within the global space sector, as the transition to New Space continues to present new opportunities for start-ups and small to medium-sized businesses, including those recently incubated within the UAE in partnership with KryptoLabs and Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub, to enter the market and contribute to the sector’s growth and development.
The workshop was attended by Dr. Ahmed bin Abdulla Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency; Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, UNOOSA; Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, as well as executives and experts in the space sector, relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies, and representatives of embassies for countries that have cooperative space projects and agreements with the UAE.
Dr. Ahmed Al Falasi said, “The new law regulates space activities to facilitate the development of a prosperous and safe space sector in the UAE, which realises our wise leadership’s vision for the sector. It also sets a clear framework for the rights and duties of officials and establishments operating in this sector and guarantees the rights of all relevant parties, in compliance with the international agreements and treaties signed by the UAE.”
“The new law reinforces the UAE’s leading position in the international space sector, where it now stands among a few nations that have such laws, particularly since it covers relatively new activities which are not yet addressed in other laws around the world, as well as other future activities which the UAE intends to develop the appropriate infrastructure for in the near future,” the Minister added.
“The law will be a key factor in opening the doors for investment in the national space sector to various global companies, due to its legislative and regulatory environment, which provides foreign investors with assurance ahead of starting their business and projects in the UAE,” Dr. Al Falasi added.
Commenting on the announcement, Al Ahbabi said, “The enactment of the new space law will provide the UAE with an integrated legislative system for the space sector, making it a reference for regional and international space projects. The law will contribute to keeping pace with the rapid growth of the space sector and regulating the work of its various stakeholders within one ecosystem that promotes the sector and its capabilities and ensures the optimal use of its resources.”
“The Agency developed the law within the framework of its field of expertise and strategic plans for developing the UAE’s space sector,” the UAE Space Agency Director-General explained, adding that the law will enable the sector to launch more space projects, initiatives, and missions, bolstering the UAE’s position among ambitious countries in the global space race.
“The Agency drafted the law in collaboration with top international experts as per the best practice, as well as its consulting committee that includes the brightest minds in the space sector, to ensure that the law meets the current and future trends for the sector,” he noted.
Commenting on the United Nation’s partnership with the UAE Space Agency, UNOOSA Director Di Pippo, said, “I would like to express my gratitude to the UAE’s contribution to the space sector, and as we look forward to expanding our work with the UAE in Space, we will soon be establishing a new office of the United Nations in the UAE, which will be dedicated to space exploration and will reinforce the UAE’s position as a global space hub.”
Nasser Al Rashidi, Director of Space Policy and Regulations at the UAE Space Agency, gave a presentation during the workshop clarifying the law and demonstrating stages of its implementation, as well as its most important elements.
Al Rashidi said, “The UAE Space Law comes in line with the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE Centennial 2071, the 4th Industrial Revolution Strategy, the Higher Policy for Science and Technology and Innovation, and the National Policy for the Space Sector. The development of this law took into consideration 20 relevant treaties and agreements, and compared its elements to more than 18 other national space laws of countries such as the US, Russia, France, Germany, Korea, Hong Kong, Brazil and Kazakhstan among others.
“The development of the law was also based on key local legislations relevant to space sector and its activities, such as the civil aviation law, the communications law, commercial companies’ law, IP rights laws, and imports and exports laws. The process also involved consultations with more than 15 relevant parties within the country and other agencies of leading states in the space sector.”
“The law,” Al Rashidi noted, “also tackles advanced, new, and modern concepts that are garnering international attention, including space-launch activities, organising manned trips, space tourism and related activities, training and science activities, high-altitude activities, building and using man-made facilities in space and on other planets, ownership and usage rights of space resources, and other commercial activities like mining operations and space logistics services, in addition to the mechanism for dealing with space debris, meteorites, and managing space risks.”
The global space industry is currently worth more than US$400 billion, including countless opportunities for businesses and governments.
As an emerging space nation, the UAE space industry’s investments have exceeded AED22 billion. The UAE Space sector has provided 1,500 jobs, at 57 space-related entities, five space research and development centres, and three universities offering space degrees. Moreover, the commercial space sector in the UAE includes the seventh largest satellite operator in the world in terms of revenue, Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, and Thuraya Telecommunications Company.
With its Space Investment Promotion Plan, the UAE Space Agency aims to make the UAE a regional hub for commercial space activities and advanced research and development, through increasing foreign investment in the UAE Space sector as well as encouraging local investors who may be considering funding opportunities within the space exploration and commercial space industries. In 2019, the UAE had six new space start-ups, where four of them were established by Emirati nationals.
The UAE Space industry is bringing about benefits to the national economy as well as 17 different industries, including the environmental sector, transport sector, insurance sector, among others.
At the end of the ceremony, the UAE Space Agency honoured the strategic partners who contributed to developing the UAE Space Law, including: General Secretariat of the UAE Cabinet, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, General Civil Aviation Authority, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, Al Yah Satellite Communications, University of Sharjah and Dubai South.